Cathay Pacific to be probed over Covid outbreak
12 / 01 / 2022
By Rebecca Jeffrey
Cathay Pacific is being investigated by the Hong Kong government. Photo: Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific will face questions and possible legal action as part of the Government of Hong Kong’s investigation into the latest Covid-19 outbreak.
The airline is being investigated after a recent outbreak of the Omicron variant was traced back to Cathay Pacific air crew, who were alleged to have breached quarantine rules.
The government is also investigating whether crew had returned to Hong Kong on cargo-only flights to benefit from quarantine exemptions for cargo crew.
According to FlightGlobal, at a press briefing on January 11, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said: “We will take legal action once we have the full evidence of what wrong [Cathay] has gone into.”
She added: “Cathay Pacific is a very big non-compliance case because the air cargo crew should not have gone out during the quarantine at home. And worse still, if we discover through full investigations that some crew of Cathay Pacific, or some staff of Cathay Pacific, should not have been travelling back on a cargo flight and enjoying this exemption, that would be much bigger non-compliance.”
Cathay Pacific said it will comply with the investigations and has fired the crew that breached regulations, reported Reuters.
Hong Kong Supply Chain Concerns
Hong Kong initially facilitated air cargo operations into the city by easing quarantine requirements, however, more stringent crew quarantine rules were imposed after the breach occurred.
These tougher quarantine rules will see cargo traffic and the supply of goods into Hong Kong drop, warned Lam, according to Reuters.
Speaking at Hong Kong’s new ‘patriots only’ legislature, she said: “The consequences of these cargo policies will be seen very soon. We almost have no goods entering via cargo flight.”
The rule changes prompted Cathay Pacific to implement “substantial reductions” to its long-haul freighter capacity in the first quarter of 2021. At the end of December, the airline suspended all long-haul freighter and cargo-only passenger flights to and from Hong Kong for seven days.